The Desolation of Robot King

DERP

Dumbface.

I’ve always been more of a Daily Show person than a Colbert Report person. I guess I just like my humor a little more straightforward. In case anyone has noticed, I’ve tried writing this post several times before, having put something up and taken it down at least twice before. Hopefully, the third time will be the charm. I don’t usually write like this, but these past few weeks have been a bit tumultuous. You ever have those days where you wake up wanting to watch the whole world burn? Yeah, I’ve been having a little bit of that lately. It’s a combination of financial stress, time-management problems, and the interpersonal friction that can happen when you spend prolonged amounts of time around the same group of people. I’m trying to remember the line from that David Foster Wallace speech I’ve posted once or twice: “This is water.” If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google it or check YouTube. I don’t feel like linking to it again.

chris rockI’m having more trouble going to bed lately. I like to think of myself as a morning person, but since I can’t just go to bed after getting home late in the evening, I always need a few hours to unwind, meaning that I typically go to bed around 1 am these days. This needs to stop. I just can’t seem to turn my brain off, and on countless occasions, I’ve gone to bed, then gotten up to watch some silly YouTube video or something that I thought about watching earlier but didn’t get around to. How does something that tiny lodge itself so deeply in your brain? Sometimes that happens multiple times in a night and I overcompensate by staying up until 1:30 or 2 as if to say, “What do you want from me?” I’ve missed one or two shifts at my new job because I keep misreading my schedule and it makes me furious. I need every dollar I can get, yet more than once, I have come in to work only to find that I’m supposed to stay later than I thought (but still have to leave early because I already made plans) or gotten a call from my supervisor saying that I was supposed to come in today. I am very, very careful in copying down my schedule every week, yet somehow, that still happens. What the fuck, universe?

I’m generally pretty reliable when it comes to shit like this. I have locked myself out of my car (once), locked myself out of my apartment (once), and recently locked myself out of my locker at the gym for the first time. (I had to get somebody else to run and get an employee because I couldn’t go running out there in just a towel.) Something is out of joint. I know nobody’s perfect, but there’s a reason I solve jigsaw puzzles for fun and write a blog that’s all about hating humanity: it’s because I’m a perfectionist. Specifically, I’m an INFJ with OCD, and yes, I have used that line before. One on hand, maybe it means that I’ll save the world that day. Because I do see things that other people don’t see. I often tell other people that they are wrong about something despite having less firsthand knowledge of the subject than they do. And you know what? I’m usually right.

My supervisor doesn’t even seem to much mind that I keep screwing up my schedule. That’s not the point. When I was doing theater back in high school and didn’t get a part I wanted, my mother thought I was being a spoiled diva by storming around the house. She didn’t get it, either, which is part of the reason why I keep my distance from her these days. I was angry at myself for not getting a role that I was certain I could have played. It wasn’t my fault; the director liked someone else and there was nothing I could do about it. (The dude did fine in the role, by the way, but I was kind of competitive with him. He’s a nice fellow, but kinda boring. I’m not.) When I turned on my phone today and saw that I had a voicemail, I prayed that it was my mother for the first time ever. Of course, it wasn’t. I’ve had enough of a hassle working with my student loans and trying to get my employment situation straightened out. It might actually be nice to get a message from her saying, “Call me sometime. Bye.” Because I don’t have to worry about that, you see.

I’m going to have to see The Hobbit sometime, probably next week. What I’ve heard about it is that it’s the worst of the three, which is kinda depressing considering the lukewarm opinion I had of the first two. What happened to the Peter Jackson who was both a technical wizard and a strong storyteller? Neither of those elements are on display in these films. They are bloated and overlong, and they look like video games. I guess he just got carried away with himself. Stephen Colbert is, like, the biggest Tolkien nerd on the planet. I love Tolkien, but I don’t feel the need to know everything about him. Colbert’s humor is more “out there” than Stewart’s ever was. When one of his bits flops, I often find myself scratching my head wondering what he was even going for in the first place. Since the news is filtered through the lens of the character he plays, it’s not as grounded. Stewart just reacts to the news; Colbert tries to insert himself into it. It’s funny, though.

I like to think of what I’m going through these days as nothing more than growing pains. I’ve asked a couple friends for financial assistance and we’ll see if I get it. Just don’t feel sorry for me, that’s all. I have enough problems of my own. I can’t carry yours around, too.

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Enigma

douglasThe difficulty with anxieties is that they make you feel nervous about decisions you’ve already made. You get really nervous because you’re seeing your significant other later, and as much as you love them, you almost don’t know what to do with them now that you’ve got them. If you’d dated or gotten laid a lot while in high school and college rather than pining for your friends and masturbating incessantly, maybe you would have an easier time processing this. But since you’d almost gotten used to spending all that time alone, it’s disorienting to have the option to do something else. And of course, there’s sex. Where would we be without that?

I’m still single, by the way. I’m just spitballing.

There’s been talk of making Blood Meridian into a movie for years now. It’s one of my favorite novels, and arguably Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece. It’s a challenging piece of work. For one thing, it is unrelentingly violent. I don’t think then pages go by in that book without somebody getting skinned, shot to pieces, or their head bashed open on a rock. It’s not exactly beach reading, is what I’m trying to say. For another thing, its point-of-view is, if not nihilistic, certainly more interested in portraying evil as something that is immortal and eternally destructive than in telling the kind of story in which the good guys win. Since the story consists of a bunch of cowboys going on a killing rampage across the Southwest, I’m not even sure if it has any sympathetic characters. Actually, that’s not true. The kid (the nameless protagonist of the novel) is somewhat sympathetic, but only because he kind of just goes along with what’s happening rather than actively encouraging it. With a story like that, you kind of have to take what you can get.

I’m not sure who you would get to adapt such a book. Badlands-era Malick could maybe do it justice, but I doubt he’d want to now. The Coen brothers could probably do it, but they already adapted one of Cormac McCarthy’s books (No Country for Old Men), so perhaps they wouldn’t want to do go there again. Werner Herzog, maybe? Resurrect Klaus Kinski and he would make an amazing Judge. I’ve probably spent too much time thinking about this.

I’m on the last season of 30 Rock. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of taking things too slow when you realize that you’re enjoying something. I love 30 Rock. I think it’s one of the best sitcoms ever, but I’ve seen only a couple episodes of Seinfeld and haven’t watched Cheers at all, so I clearly have a lot to learn about that. There’s a line in Battlestar Galactica where Adama says that he likes the book he’s reading so much that he doesn’t want it to be over. Part of the reason I read, like, five or six books at once is that it’s hard for me to focus on something once I realize I like it. I’m not prolonging it so much as missing the forest for the trees. Because I have fallen into that pitfall of reading something just so you can say you’ve read it or watching something just so you can say you’ve watched it. And you can’t do that. Because then you’re just counting the pages/episodes until you’re done and then you can move onto the next new thing. I might look more composed to other people than I actually am. All I know is that sitting down to actually watch/read something, even and especially if I like it, is way more difficult than it should be.

The thing about 30 Rock is that it is not much concerned with either plot or character. It’s a joke machine, that’s all. When it’s on a roll, it will have you pissing your pants, clutching your sides and howling with laughter, because it is the kind of show that can fit a brilliant sight gag, one liner, and obscure pop culture reference into the same moment. Even the worst episodes have at least a handful of good jokes, and from what I’ve heard, the show went out on a bang, so I’ll be excited to get there. I have so much else to watch, after all.

It can be difficult to reign in your own weird impulses when you’re the only one in control. Especially when you spend 95% of your free time in your room. I’m talking about myself here, in case that’s not obvious. One of my high school English teachers was fond of reading some of our essays aloud to the class. The high points came when he read the bad ones and made fun of them, but he read the good ones as well, and wouldn’t you know it, mine were often featured. Except that one time I didn’t even do a very good job of exploring the topic; I just wrote a really entertaining (albeit) weird piece and he gave it the highest grade in the class because it was nothing if not memorable. Again, it’s easy to go up your own ass when you’re the only one calling the shots. It’s part of the reason I think Kubrick’s last masterpiece was A Clockwork Orange. The man was a genius, but to call him a control freak is putting it mildly.

I’m listening to Rent as I write this. It’s not bad. I listened to it as a high school theater nerd and thought it was the best thing I’d ever heard. I don’t still feel that way, but I sympathize with Mark, Roger, and Maureen. Maybe they are entitled assholes who don’t contribute anything. But they’re trying to. Roger’s music sucks and I’m not sure if Mark’s movie would really be any good, but honestly, who are they hurting by squatting in that loft? (Also, I saw somebody play Maureen as a dumb blonde once. It worked surprisingly well, especially her performance piece, which is actually really funny.) Benny doesn’t need the money; he can let his old friends stay there for nothing, and at the beginning of the show, he’s asking them to pay rent on the year they’ve already stayed, which seems like a half-assed way of trying to throw somebody out. I know people who hate that musical. I think it’s overlong and sentimental, but still powerful. Maybe I’ll think differently in another ten years. Then again, maybe not.

Suddenly, I have so much more respect for One Direction.

Dream in Red

way he looks

I’ve come to a realization lately that, as realizations often do, seems obvious in retrospect. See, I’ve met a lot of people in my lifetime who have made me feel insecure, and for the longest time, I thought it was something I just needed to get over. But it isn’t. People who make others feel insecure are usually projecting their own insecurities, be it consciously or subconsciously. The people you should want to be around aren’t people who are like you, but people about whom you really don’t care whether or not they’re like you. I thought about this while seeing The Way He Looks, a Brazilian coming-of-age drama about a blind teen who realizes he is gay and falls in love with the new boy in class. I won’t spoil things for you, except to say that everything ends happily, which is not unusual for this kind of film. I’ve railed against this subgenre before, but somehow, this one got through my defenses. And I think I know why.

I tend to tiptoe around going into too much detail about my own experiences in high school on this blog. It’s not so much that I get off on being withholding as that I don’t generally find it relevant to what I have to say here. But I don’t mind saying that this film bears no resemblance to my own experiences. I spent most of my time in high school crushing on straight friends. That’s a staple of many a young homo’s story, and a lot of gay fiction plays into that by having the shy, nerdy protagonist get assigned to tutor the captain of the football team and…you know the rest. In real life, this almost never happens. I’m not saying that the captain of the football team is never gay, only that the odds that he will fall for his shy, nerdy math tutor and find his feelings reciprocated are infinitesimal. I almost got angry at The Way He Looks for presenting a story that is so goddamned warm and fuzzy, but then I realized that that’s not fair. There are teens getting thrown out of their houses for being gay, but there are also teens whose biggest fear is just that the boy they like is more interested in the cute girl in class and their stories matter, too.

I’m about a decade older than the characters in this film. I remember very clearly what being that age was like. So when I see a film like Shelter or Summer Storm, I get kinda pissy because what they present is a fantasy, nothing more. Yes, it would be nice to be pushed out of the closet by a handsome surfer who takes you by the hand and helps you to realize that everything will be okay and that this thing you’ve just learned about yourself changes nothing. Yes, it would be nice to realize that you are gay and then have your straight best friend instantly forgive you for getting overly physical and cockblocking him earlier. But that never happens and you know it. Stories like that of Leonardo and Gabriel (the guys in The Way He Looks) do happen occasionally. They’re nowhere near as rare as they used to be, but I suspect that they did happen even when I was a teen. Some people lead charmed lives, and others just know how to roll with the punches. I’m not sure if either of those can be applied to me, but hey, I don’t begrudge those to whom they can.

I’m realizing that I won’t keep in touch with everyone I know over here when I move back to New York. And I’m okay with that. You don’t have to stay friends with somebody forever in order to say that they had a meaningful impact on your life. A lot of the people I hang out with these days are California types. They’re the kinds of people who can exist only in a certain region, and since they live in that region, that’s okay. But there are folks who live in California and like California who transcend their region. And then there’s me. I’m not a California type. At the moment, I’m a New York type, but I talk about that enough already. I made the decision long ago not to pursue a career in academia. Some people never leave the college campus. I go back less and less with each passing year.

You have to be judicious in deciding who is really worthy of your time. Sometimes, that hews dangerously close to cruelty. It’s weird, because I complain a lot about how my friends never hit me up and ask how I’m doing. Most of the time, I’m the one who has to initiate any interaction. Somehow, I still feel like I’d be in a better place if I could drop a few more of them from my mental Facebook feed. It’s not even that I hate them, just that I hung out with them to vent my frustrations, and since I’m very, very slowly learning to deal with some of those frustrations, I think they’d be better off if I cut them loose. Why do you think I update this blog so often? If I had more people to listen to me in real life, I wouldn’t have written hundreds of thousands of words here. But all that barking madness has to go somewhere.

I try not to look at what I’m doing these days as “finding myself”. Maybe part of the reason that my parents were so frustrated with my progress when I lived with them was that I wasn’t rushing along and wasn’t doing nothing; I was moving, just very incrementally. In a way, that’s more aggravating than going nowhere. Then again, maybe not.

In the Morning

I said when I left New York for California that I was going into what I thought of as an exile. It’s been over a year since that happened, and it really wasn’t my choice. I’ve never been able to uproot myself completely. I had a very awkward experience my freshman year of college when I returned to my high school to see the improv club perform and ended up performing in the show. It wasn’t like I was trying to pass myself off as a student, so I don’t suppose there was anything wrong with it, but man, did it ever feel weird. When I was in grad school, I frequently found myself wishing that I could pop by California for just a few hours or the same way that I spent many weekends in my first year of college at my parents’ house and still revisit my college town on occasion. (I’m not always there just to walk around. I have friends over there and sometimes, there’s a movie showing that isn’t available where I live.) I’m starting to worry that some of the people I hang out with are a bit too much like me. So maybe it’s time to get out of this town.

It’s probably better to feel as if you are leaving shit behind rather than getting out just to get away from all this stuff. And I definitely won’t be able to move back to NYC anytime soon, for reasons both financial and otherwise. What I know for certain is that I’m getting tired of this shit. I’m tired of this wussy climate. I’m tired of having to commute sometimes several hours in order to spend time with a friend. I’m tired of being reminded of shit that I did growing up but don’t really care about anymore. I don’t know if my high school has reunions, but if it does, I’m never going to one. That’s a promise.

A lot of my coworkers at the coffee shop knew each other previously. I didn’t know anyone there when I walked in and was older than most of them anyway, if only by a few years. I can’t help that I prefer to hold myself at kind of a distance from the LGBT community. I hate it when people say, “Being gay is only a small part of who I am” because no, it isn’t; I just think that it’s a mistake to define yourself in terms of how well you do or don’t fit in with a particular group. It is one thing to look at certain issues through rainbow-colored lenses and quite another to make everything about gender and sexuality. The former is not only fine but vital and perhaps even inevitable. The latter is dull. Dull, dull, dull. And I know I’ve talked about this before but that doesn’t make it any less true.

I worried for a long time about how I was going to keep in touch with all my friends when we lived on opposite sides of the country. The obvious answer to that is that sometimes people drift apart. The ones that don’t stay in contact via Skype or social media or Pony Express or telegraph or whatever the hell else you’ve got. And I think the rocky quality of my social life up until this point is due to the fear that my friends will forget me if I don’t stay in constant contact with them. One of my best friends from college is getting his Ph.D in condensed matter physics at Urbana-Champaign Illinois. I haven’t seen him in over three years, but you had better believe I want to see him again. I hope he feels the same way about me. Because we haven’t talked in a while.

Maybe the frustration here is that I can’t seem to distinguish between people who are really important to me and people who are only kind of important. It’s okay, I guess, to have friendly acquaintances with whom you exchange Christmas cards but don’t actually see much if at all, but then again, writing Christmas cards sounds like a real drag. My parents sit down to do them every year around December and…God no, I don’t want to go there.

There are a lot of nice people in the world, but as for people I would actually want to get to know, the list is rather short. Someday, I might like to meet my heroes, but of course, there’s nothing that says I should have to be friends with them. When I leave this state for good, perhaps it will feel necessary more than anything else. I’m not itching to get out of here, but the fact remains that I never really liked it all that much to begin with. And I might return periodically for the holidays and whatnot, but don’t count on it. Because people need to reach out to me from time to time, and while I didn’t write this to point fingers at anyone, I think some of them could try a little harder on that front. Of course, the ones I’d really want to see this probably aren’t the ones reading it. So it goes.

It should not come as news to most of you that reading YouTube comments is a bad idea. I still do it sometimes for reasons I can’t begin to fathom. After reading way more of them than any reasonable person should, I have concluded that most people are fucking idiots, and that most of the racist/misogynistic stuff attacking Obama/Anita Sarkeesian/Nelson Mandela/Dora the Explorer/whoever the fuck the trolls are after these days are left by a small group of people with diagnosable mental disorders brought together by a shared need to live in a bigoted fantasy rather than the real world. It’s pretty much the only way I can maintain my faith in humanity. Not that there was much of that to begin with.

 

These Days

They say that as you get older, you don’t change so much as distill. A lot of the people I knew in high school just bore me these days. I saw Y Tu Mama Tambien when I was fourteen and didn’t get much out of it. The explicit sex wasn’t a problem (for me, it was kind of a turn-on to see Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal going at it), but I just couldn’t feel engaged by the main characters. They just seemed like a pair of sex-obsessed dirtbags. Of course, that’s what most teenagers are, but it took me a while to appreciate that. Even though I was a teenager myself at the time, I somehow couldn’t identify with it. That did change over time, however. Looking back, I think it’s a fine film. It’s weird to think that you could drift apart from your best friend until you realize that you don’t have all that much in common anymore, but it’s happened to me at least a few times so far. And I don’t even have that many friends.

I think the reason I find myself drifting away from some of these people is that I see so many of them “settling down”. I put that in quotes because to some people, that seems to mean finding somebody they want to marry, as if all you have to do is find somebody you want to spend the rest of your life with and then you can spend it with them. But once you’ve found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you have to actually spend the rest of your life with them. Deciding that you want to spend the rest of your life with them is only the first step. I always get bugged when I hear people talk about their relationship as something that is going to last the ages, because so far, it’s lasted a couple of fights, maybe a handful of personal and professional setbacks, and that’s it. I’ve said it before, but my future husband had better be tough as nails. It’s not even so much about whether he’ll be able to handle me as whether or not we’ll be able to spend all that time together and not get bored. Seriously, let’s take it one step at a time.

I hate the expression “follow your bliss”. Joseph Campbell originated it, I think, and he’s the one who wrote about the hero’s journey and how certain storytelling tropes can be found in every culture and shit. I know what he means; I just hate the sound of it. It seems almost fatalistic, and I am not a fatalist. There is no “meant to be”, there is only what is and what isn’t. This might seem at odds with my own spiritual beliefs, which are more pantheistic than atheistic, but I don’t think it is. If there is a God, He doesn’t have a plan for you. It’s not a simple as just living the life that was preordained. Instead, you just have to live the best life you can, and maybe if you’re lucky, the Flying Spaghetti Monster will meet you halfway on occasion.

Let’s talk, for a second, about In-N-Out Burger. Actually, let’s talk about Chick Fil-A. A few years ago, CEO Dan Cathy stirred up controversy when he said that he did not support gay marriage. You might reasonably ask what gay marriage has to do with fast food, but that’s exactly the point: Who the fuck asked him what his views on gay marriage were? Obviously, you can continue to eat there even if you don’t share his views, but that leads us to my next point: I really like In-N-Out. It’s the only fast food chain that I patronize on anything more than a once-in-a-blue-moon basis (I honestly can’t remember the last time I ate at McDonald’s or Burger King), but something tells me I don’t share the CEO’s views. The Texas-based family that founded it is, I believe fundamentalist Christian, and if you look on the bottom of their drink cups, you will notice the words “John 3:16” printed on there. But that’s irrelevant. None of the chief executives have, to my knowledge, issued any public statements on gay marriage. They also pay their employees a good starting wage. So even though I brought this up, I think I’ll just call it off. Because nothing beats a double-double animal style.

When my father had cancer, he would take me along to support groups because I was a toddler and there was nowhere else he could leave me. He would tell everybody there that I was “shy”. I don’t think I am. Socially awkward, maybe even withdrawn, but not shy. In the right setting, I can be the life of the party. Ask anybody who’s ever gotten a real conversation out of me. But not when surrounded by people with metal voices and/or missing limbs and shit (my father used to be a smoker). He said that what he got out of this was a sense of perspective: surrounding himself with people who were even more fucked up than he was made him feel better about his own situation. I feel like that’s why I’m on OKCupid. Nobody ever gets everything they want, but I have a nasty feeling that I’m not going to get to be with one of the jocks that I spent all of high school (and most of college and, yes, probably the years after that) lusting after. I suppose I can live with that, but it’s nice to know that there are some folks who are interested in me whose interest I don’t return. Hey, I’m allowed to have standards, too. I just have to figure out what’s reasonable.